3 Days in Chicago: Ghosts, Friends and a Jacket Dilemma

Thank you to everyone for sharing your stories and words of encouragement with me Sunday and yesterday.

On Sunday night I barely slept because my right butt cheek was pulsing really deeply and I could feel it radiate down my leg almost to my knee. The groin pain has also come back in spurts. I feel even more sure now that I made the right decision to pull out of the marathon at mile nine. I probably should have stopped even sooner but I needed time to come to terms with what I knew I had to do. I have an appointment scheduled with my PT for Thursday… but I’m hoping I’ll be able to get in sooner if an opening comes up.

From everything I’ve learned about Piriformis Syndrome the only thing I can really do is rest, stretch, get massages and make some changes to my sleeping and sitting form. I’ve been doing the set of stretches my PT gave me last week and I’m hoping they start to work soon. I think it can take up to 6 weeks for PS to really go away, but sometimes it goes away in just a few days… fingers crossed.

Even though the Chicago Marathon didn’t go the way I imagined it would I still had a great weekend leading up to the DNF. The city is absolutely beautiful and Adam and I are already looking forward to heading back next October.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.04.52 PM

We stayed at the Congress Plaza Hotel which is on Michigan Ave directly across from Grant Park and the marathon starting corrals. The location really could not be any more perfect but the hotel itself is incredibly outdated and in need of renovations (which are supposedly underway). When we walked off the elevator onto our hotel room floor for the first time I immediately said to Adam, “this hotel has got to be haunted right?” 

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.19.58 PM

The hallways are dark, dingy and falling apart. I’m sure the hotel was in it’s prime …back in the 1800s! On the way to the airport yesterday morning I looked up reviews of The Congress and found out it’s supposedly the most haunted building in all of Chicago! I’m not 100% sure I believe in ghosts, but this place definitely gave me the creeps. I’ll call it an interesting experience this time, but I won’t be staying there again next October :).

I wasn’t supposed to be doing much walking before the race, so Adam and I just strolled a few blocks down Michigan on Friday night to find some food. We enjoyed some delicious Chicago dogs, which are incredibly salty but also incredibly good!

The city was beautifully lit up at night and there was interesting art everywhere.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.06.28 PM

This was one of the coolest things I saw all weekend – that’s real water spurting out of her mouth!

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.06.09 PM

On Saturday Adam and I went to a delicious restaurant called Yolk for breakfast. There was quite a long wait to get in but it was well worth it! I’ll be dreaming of the five egg omelets from Yolk until I get to return again next year!

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.30.41 PM

After a hearty breakfast we took an Uber over to the Chicago Marathon expo. There was a free shuttle bus from the Hilton to the McCormick Center where the expo was held but the wait to get on the shuttle bus was extremely long. It only cost us $8 in the Uber and our driver knew a back way into the center so we got there really quickly. We heard it took other people about 30+ minutes to get through the traffic on Saturday.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.05.37 PM

The expo building is so large that it actually didn’t feel very crowded. The crew has everything down to a science and aside from the merch checkout line I never had to wait for anything.

I bought the Chi 2015 jacket which I am now seriously conflicted about.

Screen Shot 2015-10-12 at 6.04.34 PM

It cost $100 which means I really want to wear it because that’s a lot of money that I don’t want to throw down the drain. On the other hand, I don’t know if I’ve earned the right to wear the jacket. I am rationalizing that I put in hundreds of miles training for the Chicago Marathon and that alone gives me the right to wear it. I didn’t drop out of the race because I was undertrained, I DNF’d because I got an injury flare up at the very end of my training cycle… plus just the sight of it gives me so much inspiration for next year’s race! 


Sunday morning I had a 4am wake up call, ate some breakfast, read some of my favorite blogger’s race recaps for motivation, put on my Team Paws gear and then met up with Jenny to hang out before the race started since we were both in Wave 2.


It was fun to chat about our training cycles, upcoming races (we’ll get to hang out again when she comes down for the Miami Half in Jan) and mutual friends aka our favorite run bloggers!

Jenny is the third person I’ve met through the run blog world in real life (Jodi and Ali were the first two). It’s the best when your online friends become real friends! I had hoped to meet a couple of other people this weekend but there will be other races and other opportunities!

I have to say a huge congrats to everyone who finished Chicago this weekend! An especially big congrats to Jenny, HeatherHelly and LeAnne

(To those of you, like me, who had to drop, there is always next year. When we cross the finish line in 2016 it will have an extra special meaning.)

While my race day didn’t go quite as expected I am super excited to go back and run Chicago again next year. The first nine miles of the course that I got to see were spectacular – each part of town so different from the next – and the crowd support was second to none!

I can’t wait to do it again … and to see the second half of the course!

Are you thinking about running Chicago in 2016?
What’s the biggest/best race you’ve ever been a part of? 



  1. October 13, 2015 / 6:38 am

    Hi Kristina! Your post about the Chicago marathon makes me want to sign up right away! Sure sounds like you had a fun weekend in the windy city. You are right when you say that crossing that finish line next year will make it extra special for you. Don’t give up! With your positive attitude and determination, I’m sure you will get there in due time.

    You have never seen me comment before so maybe a little intro is in order. I’m a fellow Fort Lauderdale runner and new to the blogging world (so far so good!). I’ve been reading your blog for a little while and I really enjoy it. I look forward to see where your training takes you in the next few months.

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 2:56 pm

      Hi Alexandra! Thanks so much for leaving a comment today and a link to your site. I can’t wait to check it out after work!

      You should absolutely throw your name in the lotto (or run with a charity group) next year in Chicago. I flew with quite a few other Miami/Fort lauderdale runners this weekend. we all marveled at how everyone else thought the day was hot but we thought it was nice and cool, haha!

  2. October 13, 2015 / 8:54 am

    I am happy you had a great weekend leading up to the race! I have to be honest, after following so many bloggers training for Chicago and reading their recaps and about their time in the city, it makes me want to throw my name in the lottery for next year!

    If the jacket gives you inspiration to tackle your next goal, I think you should wear it. I think there is so much dumb “etiquette” surrounding race shirts/jackets and people that would get perturbed about it take themselves waaaaaaaay to seriously! I have a red short sleeved shirt from a race I never even STARTED, but I paid for registration so I had my friend pick up my packet for me. And since I don’t have a lot of short sleeved shirts I like, I wear it! I would have a hard time spending $100 on a jacket and then never wearing it when it is a perfectly good jacket! I know you didn’t ask our opinion on the jacket situation but I wanted to throw my thoughts in there!

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:01 pm

      PLEASE put your name in for the lotto! That would be so awesome. Team PAWS gave Adam a “Team Paws supporter” shirt to wear to the race and he said other guys wearing their PAWS Supporter shirts were giving him the thumbs up sign. My heart warms at the thought of Adam high-fiving other cat dads (like Paul) at the race, even if the idea is absolutely absurd to him, haha.

      Thanks for your input on the jacket. I didn’t ask for input because really I would be asking for people to just tell me what I want to hear, which is that it’s okay to wear the jacket! 🙂 I think I will wear it around the house or just on basic errand shopping, but not to running related events. The worst thing ever would be for someone to ask how my race went and then have to say I DNF’d and explain the situation! Although I have come to realize over the last 48 hours that I feel SO much more comfortable talking about DNFing with other runners and I feel SUPER awkward talking about it with non-runners. I hate when people say, “nine miles is great! it’s more than I could run!” That’s a nice sentiment and I know those non-runners mean well, but it’s just really not that comforting.

      • October 14, 2015 / 8:11 am

        Oh now I want to see a pic of Adam in his team PAWS shirt!!!

  3. October 13, 2015 / 9:22 am

    It sounds like you really enjoyed your time in Chicago. I visited the city once back in 2002 for a psychology conferences, but wasn’t able to spend much time there. I would love to go back someday. The Chicago Marathon is on my list of races to do, but it probably won’t be for another few years. Traveling that far is really hard, unless I tie it in with a vacation. The Portland Marathon remains to be one of my favorites, along with the Seattle Marathon. Seattle was beautiful, but not the easiest course. Another good one is the Houston Marathon – it was my first and I would love to go back and tackle it again someday. So many marathons, so little time. 🙂 First world problems.

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:03 pm

      I can definitely see how traveling now that Axel is here would be really difficult if it’s just for a race. Portland is definitely a great city to run through. I really thought I was going to come back and run it next year, but now Chicago has to take it’s place. Seattle seems like it would be an amazing place to run a marathon, but the course would be way way too challenging for me!

      First world problems for sure!

  4. October 13, 2015 / 10:07 am

    About a year ago one of my friends stopped by my desk to wish me luck in my first marathon. She left a post it note on my desk that just says “go heather!!” Even though I knew when she wrote the note that I wouldn’t be running the marathon I left that note up to keep me motivated while I spent the next year training for my redemption race.You should wear that jacket and fuel your motivation to kick some Chicago ass in 2016!

    When I inevitably end up running another race in Florida I would love to try to meet up with you (my sister lives in FL too). I love following your blog and your training. I’ve reread your first marathon recap a couple times in the past few weeks to try to keep some of my first time marathon nerves at bay. It is really inspiring to me that when things started to suck you didn’t give up and just kept moving forward. Since my body seems to be falling apart these days I am just hoping that if things really start to suck during the race, I can find the strength to just keep moving forward (or if things are really shit, the wisdom to know when to stop!).

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:07 pm

      Yes! I would love to meet up in person! I’m thinking about doing the Glass Slipper Challenge in 2017 🙂 That’s a long way off right now, but I know I won’t be able to do it in 2016, and it’s on my bucket list.

      I’m glad that my first marathon recap has been helpful. I wish that my Chicago recap could have been more uplifting! As more time goes on I really do think I made the right decision to drop at mile 9. My lower back near the sciatic nerve is really killing me now. I have yet to take Advil though because the pain is a constant reminder that it was a good decision to drop out of the marathon. It also reminds me to not jump back into training too soon because of course my brain is like GO RUN RIGHT NOW!

      • October 14, 2015 / 11:18 am

        Haha, my brain is always telling me to go run right now. Even though my legs feel bruised from yesterday’s massage.

        If I don’t make it down in 2017, I am planning on doing the Disney World Marathon in 2018. If the scheduling stays the same the race will be on my birthday 🙂 Sometimes I plan way to far in advance!

  5. October 13, 2015 / 10:11 am

    Chicago sounds like such a blast, I would LOOOOOVE to run the marathon! That’s definitely on our list of must-do races!

    It sounds like you have a great attitude about the whole experience, and you definitely made the right call. You will crush Chicago next year, and like you said, your finish will be that much more meaningful!

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:08 pm

      Please submit your name for 2016! I would love love love to meet up with you at a race. I just imagine that you are the most fun person to hang out with on a race weekend. Your costumes are always the best!

  6. October 13, 2015 / 10:46 am

    I’m considering Chicago next year… or some sort of marathon in general! Still thinking a lot of things through, and it’s the hubby’s turn to pick first for all his races for 2016. So we’ll see!

    Not sure about the jacket. I’ve never been in your situation, but I’ve donated the race shirts for the one or two races that I didn’t start. I get the value part of it, but am not sure about the idea of wearing it around. But it doesn’t say Finisher on it, so technically OK. I think if it were me, I’d probably give it away, maybe to a friend who did do the race.

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:11 pm

      Chicago was such a welcoming city! You guys really know how to host a race!

      I can’t see myself giving the jacket away since it was so expensive and it really is a great motivating thing to have hanging around my house. I would never wear it to a running related event, but I think I will wear it around the house during the 2 or 3 days we get “jacket weather” around here.

  7. October 13, 2015 / 10:58 am

    Oh, the Congress Hotel! Great location, but yea… seriously in need of some restoration work.

    I really hope that you start to feel better soon. I sounds like this isn’t just impacting your running, but your whole life. Yuck!

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:13 pm

      Thanks, Lizzy! Now that the sciatic nerve has officially been irritated it really is impacting me at all hours of the day. I started modifying my sleeping position last night which I think helped some? But today sitting at my desk in the office has been killer. I now have incredible sympathy for people who deal with chronic pain. I just cannot imagine living with this forever.

      Our floor at The Congress said it was under renovation but I didn’t really see a whole lot happening! I saw one maintenance guy kind of walking around but he never appeared to be actually doing anything. The hallways … had character … our bathroom was just straight up smelly.

  8. October 13, 2015 / 11:27 am

    I think you have earned the right to wear that jacket. You trained with heart of a marathon runner and gave that day everything you had. That is what running in a marathon is about. I hope you have a completely kick ass comeback next year <3

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 3:16 pm

      Thanks so much Sam! I have come to the conclusion that I can wear the jacket around the house, but I would never wear it to a place where I’m going to be with a lot of other runners. I wouldn’t want to give off the false impression that I finished Chicago, and it would just be awful to have someone ask about the race and have to say I DNFd while wearing the jacket. ugh.

  9. October 13, 2015 / 3:26 pm

    I’ve always wondered what that Congress hotel is actually like – now I know! Spooky!!!

    As for the jacket – does it say “finisher” on it? If not, I would wear it. Why not? It’s a sweet jacket and it cost a lot of money. Not wasting $100 is more important in this case, IMO. If anyone gives you crap about it you can tell them, 1) you are a buttface for giving me crap about this and 2) I’m using it as visual motivation to kick Chicago’s butt next year!

    • Kristina
      October 13, 2015 / 9:00 pm

      It does not say “finisher” on it, if it did I definitely would not wear it!

      I like that you’re giving me permission to call people buttfaces, that makes me really happy! haha 😀

  10. October 13, 2015 / 5:30 pm

    I think you earned that jacket. It’s not like a finisher’s medal…you trained your ass off for Chicago and you DNF for the most acceptable reason EVER. If it inspires you, wear it!

  11. October 13, 2015 / 6:25 pm

    I am so sorry that you got injured. That just sucks. But that training was not for nothing and you will be a better runner for it. I really think you should wear the jacket. It’s a reminder that sometimes it’s ok to quit. You did a big thing, you earned that jacket.

    Oh… and I’ll be seeing you at A1A and at Chicago in 2016! 🙂

  12. October 13, 2015 / 8:14 pm

    I am so confident that you made the right decision by dropping out of the marathon. A really good running friend of mine, Sam, had pitiformid syndrome in the past and had to take quite a stint of time off of running. She is now recovered and is running stronger than ever. You can always run Chicago again next year so I would definitely wear that jacket because of all the hard work and training you did and the attempt you made to run the marathon. As I read your post I realize we were not staying that far apart from each other. So if we both go back next year we totally have to meet up!